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Gem City Cottage: A dream come true for these business partners

Wendy Beeson and Valeria Ingamell quickly became friends upon meeting each other while volunteering for a local arts organization in Palatka years ago. Wendy, a world traveler and an accomplished artist, that has mastered watercolors and acrylic painting as well as being a collage crafting sculptor, is well known for her many award winning paintings and her murals in Palatka. She has always dreamed of having her own studio. While Valeria, no stranger to the crafting world, learned to sew and embroider as a child from her grandmother and later went on to assist her mother, a seamstress, with embroidery work on clothes, handmade for the local women in town. When embroidery machines came on the market, she scooped up a six-needle machine that she still uses today in her embroidery business. Upon retiring from Publix Supermarkets she delved deep into enhancing her crafting skills to create items for the home.
When Valeria’s son-in-law purchased a building in downtown Palatka, both ladies thought it would be a great opportunity to take their home based businesses to the public with a store front. Not only that, because of their love of arts, crafts and antiques, they wanted to create a space for other local aspiring artists and crafters to display and sell their work all year round and not just at festivals and special events.
They had a name, Gem City Cottage, a location, and they had artwork and crafts along with dozens of other artists willing to display their items, but they didn’t know where to begin with combining their businesses into a partnership. “As soon as we realized we were going to team up to do this business, we knew we had to call Cheryl Lynch, consultant for the FSBDC here in Palatka, to help us navigate the steps of setting up a new business, understanding all the paperwork and licensing needed, along with the agreements and contracts we had to come up with,“ says Valeria. 
“It only made sense,” says Wendy, “we had sought help from Cheryl in the past on other projects, and if anyone knew what we were facing, it was her! She guided and advised us on everything, from contracts to branding and logos, to marketing and so many things we didn’t even know we had to do, along with preparing us for the steps after we opened and beyond.”
“It’s always great to see people coming together to do something they are passionate about, but also providing others with opportunities that may be out of reach” says Lynch. “Once the doors opened to Gem City Cottage, I knew the ladies were hitting the floor running and I look forward to working with them through their continued growth and hopefully expansion!’
Gem City Cottage opened its doors mid-August 2014 at 220 St. John’s Ave Suite 1 in downtown Palatka. They are open Tuesdays-Friday 10am-5pm and Saturdays 10am-2pm, and showcase original art, handmade crafts, jewelry and soaps, intricately embroidered pieces and unique antiques from local area artisans, that would make great gifts and accent any home. 

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